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Reports show PJC a good investment for community and students

Paris Junior College regents got a lot of information Monday that all says the same thing: The college is a good investment, not only for the community, but for students, as well.

An independent audit for 2011-2012 revealed that PJC’s net assets increased by more than $3 million for the year, and the audit found no reportable deficiencies or weaknesses in any federal or state programs.

“You got a clean opinion,” said Andy Riech, an accountant with McClanahan and Holmes. “It’s what’s not included that’s important.”

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board compared Paris’s finances for 2011 with 23 other community colleges around the state. PJC came near the top in all six categories:

  • Financial vulnerability, which measures unrestricted money versus operating expenses. Only Grayson College and Weatherford College scored better.
  • Primary reserves, which looks at how long a college could survive without new money coming in. On a ratio that should be at least .13, PJC scored .53 – Grayson College, Odessa College and Weatherford Collage were the only ones to come in higher.
  • Viability, or how much of its debt the college could pay off with the money it has now. The state recommends a score of at least .51, where PJC scored a 1.17. College of the Mainland, Hill College, Kilgore College, North Central Texas College, Texarkana College, Trinity Valley Community College, Weatherford and Wharton County Junior College also scored above a 1.
  • Debt burden, which measures how much of total expenses is for debt service. A healthy score is below 5 percent; Paris Junior College has only 2.1 percent. Alvin Community College, Coastal Bend College, College of the Mainland, Hill College, Kilgore, North Central, Odessa, Southwest Texas Junior College, Texarkana, Trinity Valley, Victoria College and Weatherford all hit at 2 percent or lower.
  • Net operating revenues, or the amount a college has left over after pay for expenses. Only Weatherford College scored better than PJC’s 12.2 percent surplus. Some swung the other way, such as Texarkana College, which operated with a 31.4 percent deficit.
  • Return on net assets, which measures the college’s total economic return as a means of figuring financial performance. Paris’ 16 percent positive was second only to Temple College. Many, such as Brazosport College, Victoria College and Texarkana, showed a negative return on assets.

“It’s amazing some of the negative numbers you see on here,” Board President Curtis Fendley said after reviewing a chart.

Dr. Pam Anglin

PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin replied that 2011 was a tough year for junior colleges.

“We look very good compared with the other schools,” she said. “We are one of the most financially sound community colleges in the state.”

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System used that same list of colleges to compare them for its own report, which showed similar results.

According to IPEDS, it costs less to attend classes at PJC than many other colleges. The cost of attendance, based on tuition and fees, is $1,284. The average for similar schools is $1,940.

More students are on some kind of financial aid at Paris Junior College – 68 percent of the student population, compared with 50 percent for the peer group. About 44 percent of students at PJC get Pell grants, where only 36 percent get the grants at other schools.

PJC has a higher graduation rate than its peers at 19 percent, compared with 15 percent average for the others. That number may seem low, Anglin said, but that’s because IPEDS only counts first-time, full-time students seeking degrees who come to the college for the first time. Community college students tend to move and transfer a fair amount, she said.

Staffing is less at PJC in most categories, except for professional support and service staff, where it’s closer to other schools. The average faculty salary at PJC is $54,418, compared with $51,705 for the other colleges. Paris has a lot of long-tenured staff at the top of their pay scales, Anglin said.

IPEDS also found that PJC spends less than its peers in most categories, except student services, where it spends $763 per full time equivalent – compared with $767 for other schools. It also spends more in public service – $259 compared with $210 per FTE. Public service includes all the industrial training grants PJC gets.

“We stretch a dollar further than other community colleges in the state of Texas,” Anglin said. “And we do it with fewer people.”

In other business, the regents:

  • Approved a seven-year tax abatement for a planned $1.5 million expansion of T&K Machine that is expected to bring 22 new jobs to Paris.
  • Revised the summer school schedule for registration to be held May 30 with late registration June 3-4 and the first day of classes on June 5. School as originally planned to begin May 29, but that was sooner than most high schools in PJC’s service area will graduate.
  • Adopted a 2013-2014 academic calender that includes a summer schedule that reflects the changes made to this year’s calender.
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